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Building forensic capacity to contribute to a long-term response 

Forensic Approaches for the Disappeared in Mexico

Comprehensive Forensic Approaches for the Disappeared in Mexico 

To provide answers to families searching for their disappeared loved ones, Friends of FAFG and FAFG are helping strengthen the forensic capacity and investigation protocols of Mexican institutions at the federal and state levels.

These institutions primarily consist of the National Search Commission (CNB), the National Human Identification Center (CNIH) and Regional Human Identification Centers in Coahuila and Jalisco. 

FAFG has accompanied the collection of family reference samples (DNA samples of relatives of a disappeared person) and skeletal DNA samples from recovered remains which are then processed in FAFG's ISO:17025-accredited laboratory located in Guatemala City. The genetic profiles from these samples are returned to the relevant institutions in Mexico and uploaded into DNA databases for massive comparison to find potential matches that lead to a positive human identification.

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Forensics for Truth, Justice, and Memorialization

In Guatemala, Friends of FAFG supports the FAFG in its efforts to identify the Disappeared and preserve the historical memory of the Internal Armed Conflict (1960-1996). FAFG has more than 26 years working alongside families to investigate cases of Disappeared persons, identify victims, and return their bodies to their communities for dignified burial processes. The Forensics for Truth, Justice, and Memorialization project advances FAFG's multidisciplinary human identification process, which weaves together data gathered from victim investigation, forensic archaeology, forensic anthropology, and forensic genetics to confirm the identities of the Disappeared. 

As the search continues, preserving historical memory is necessary for non-repetition. The San Juan Comalapa Memorial for Victims of Enforced Disappearance preserves and honors the memory of 220 victims of enforced disappearance recovered at the site of the memorial which was a former military base. The Memorial was inaugurated in June 2018, and 79 recovered victims have since been identified. FAFG has worked alongside the local organzation Coordinadora Nacional de Viudas de Guatemala (CONAVIGUA) to develop the memorial into a space for historical clarification, collective remembering, and the dignified memorialization of the Disappeared.


To further safeguard collective memory, Friends of FAFG and FAFG conduct, index, and archive life history interviews of loved ones of victims to share their testimony. Watch the testimonies here!

Friends of FAFG and FAFG hope to build trust with families to strengthen the collective process of identifying the Disappeared and remembering their lives.

Global Forensic Academy

Participation in a 2-week hands-on training that takes place in the offices and laboratories of FAFG in Guatemala City. 

The Global Forensic Academy  provides holistic, victim-led, and multidisciplinary forensic training to Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and key stakeholders from the Middle East, Africa, and Asia regions to advance transitional justice processes, support South-South coordination and facilitate community-led networks to search for and identify disappeared persons worldwide. Through the Academy, Friends of FAFG brings together individuals and organizations searching for the Disappeared for an immersive training experience that consists of 4 components:

Completion of FAFG's Introductory Online Course, which is available in English, Spanish, French, and Arabic, to establish a common base of forensic knowledge.

Participation in a 2-week immersive training that takes place in the offices and laboratories of FAFG in Guatemala City. 

Implementation of a local-level project informed by trainings and with financial and technical support from the FAFG.

Visit to the Kigali Genocide Memorial in Rwanda for a follow-up workshop 


Through the first 5 iterations of the Forensic Academy, FAFG has received 56 participants representing 42 CSOs and 18 different countries. Together, the alumni of the Global Forensic Academy form a network and community of searchers and transitional justice practitioners. Click here to the view the map below in another tab!

Forensic Assistance for the Disappeared in Colombia

In Colombia, Friends of FAFG coordinates forensic accompaniment, trainings, and exchanges with the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), the Search Unit for Disappeared Persons (UBPD), the National Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences (INLMCF), Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), and family members. By sharing their forensic experience, Friends of FAFG and FAFG look to strengthen investigation protocols, support local forensic capacity, and build collaboration between key stakeholders.


Most recently, experts at FAFG led a multisectorial process with government institutions, universities, civil society representatives, and family members to update of the Minimum Forensic Standards for Human Identification protocol, which establishes a minimum forensic threshold for human identification. To support local forensic capacity, FAFG coordinated workshops on its Multidisciplinary Human Identification System for 16 civil society organizations in Cúcuta and Medellín. On the ground, technical forensic personnel from FAFG have accompanied the Technical Forensic Support Group (GATEF) of the JEP during 3 exhumations  (1 shown below). By raising awareness about forensic strategies, Friends of FAFG and FAFG support the efforts to identify the disappeared in Colombia.

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